Posts Tagged ‘lemon’

Olive Oil Cakes

Nom nom nom!

I’m a stress baker these days. It’s pretty much where this blog came from.

The second my life starts to get busy, when it’s a little more difficult to breathe but I’m nowhere near suffocation, I start baking. I consider ingredients, flavors, and shapes. Do I want something with fruit or chocolate? Both perhaps? Neither? What kind of fruit?¬† What kind of chocolate? What can I add to make it a *little* bit different, to give it that tiny hint of something new? And what form will it all take? Is this a cookie, a cupcake, a full-blown cake, or muffins? Do I want to try a new shape or technique?

The possibilities are endless.

And the prospects are sometimes much more interesting than the idea that baking all of this will eventually give me diabetes and perhaps hypertension so maybe it would be useful to do the studying I’m supposed to be doing instead of dreaming of disease-causing treats.

But, I digress.

Baking. It calms me.

I sometimes let it be my reward.

Sharlene, if you do 50 questions and get at LEAST 60% right (I realize that percentage isn’t great in grade school but in med school it’ll have to do lest I go insane) you can bake a batch of brownies.

Sharlene, if you finish writing up that history and physical you can eat a brownie you just made.

Sharlene, if you read up on atrial fibrillation, you can eat your third brownie since you have no self-control.

Who are we kidding, Sharlene. We all know you need to eat half the tray and feel sick to your stomach at this second because since eating the first brownie you’ve gotten 7 questions wrong since you’re concentrating on EATING ANOTHER so much.

My inner monologue.

At this point in time, my abs (can you talk about your abs even if you’re unsure they’re there under the layer of blub?) are screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!

Luckily, that blub is there to muffle their screams.

These little cakes are a bit addictive. I added some strawberries and it was seriously a party in my mouth. Highly recommend the addition. I ate 2-3 a day until they were gone. Boy liked them too. He would have had seconds had I left him enough to do so.

Pioneer Woman never fails me.

Olive Oil Cakes
adapted from Ree, but originally from Food Network Magazine

Yields 12.

For cake:
1 tbsp melted butter
2/3 c all-purpose flour
1/3 c whole wheat [I’m trying to use more whole wheat flour because it’s healthier.. this small alteration wasn’t even noticed!]
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp minced fresh thyme
1 1/3 c sugar
2 tbsp grated lemon zest
2 eggs
1/4 c olive oil
2/3 c milk
4 strawberries, sliced

For glaze:
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
2 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350F.

Butter up a muffin pan and dust with a bit of flour. Whisk together the flour, the baking powder, salt and thyme in a small bowl.

In a blender, pulse the sugar and lemon zest in a blender until combined. Add the eggs one at a time, then gradually pour in the olive oil and milk, pulsing about 30 seconds or until it becomes a thin batter. Don’t overblend! Pulse pulse pulse, check, pulse a little more, check, check, check, pulse. You get the idea.

Add the dry ingredients to the blender in 2 batches until just combined. [See above note on pulsing and checking if you need some guidance.] Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake. Ten minutes into baking, take pan out of oven and layer several pieces of strawberry on top. Place back into oven for another 15 minutes or so [about 25 minutes total of baking time] until the cakes just start to pull away from the sides of the pan and spring back when lightly touched.

While waiting, make the glaze by combining the three ingredients until smooth. You can add more lemon juice if you want it a bit more sour. Drizzle over the cooled cakes and garnish with a thyme sprig.

Sorry I couldn’t save you any ūüôā

– Sharlene

Lemon Bars

I’m all about the citrus.

This year I’ve been baking oodles and oodles of lemony (x2)/limey/orangey (will have to post something orange soon!) things and I’m loving it. The refreshing flavor kinda makes you forget about all the buttery sugary filled goodness, you know? I love sugar cookies but sugar cookies with lime? Even better. Also, for some reason, citrus things make me think of breakfast which ultimately means I could SHOULD each such things at breakfast time (which can be as early as 5am.. sometimes 4am if I’m extra lucky). And they’re filled with all that vitaminy good stuff.

Yes, I have just created no less than 6 new adjectives by adding “y” to the end of words. Don’t judge me.

There was once a time I wouldn’t eat citrus.

I know. I was a silly child. At least I always loved coconut. No oranges but coconut = Sharlene had no friends.

Anyway, I had asthma as a child and it was pretty bad. My best friend in grade school who only lived a few blocks away told me once that whenever she heard the ambulance sirens she thought it was me. She was usually right. I was in and out of the hospital and my parents were fairly strict with medications and doctor’s appointments. In an attempt to try anything, my mom took me to some holistic guy who said to stop eating citrus. I don’t remember why but he said it and it stuck. I didn’t really like oranges anyway so what was the big deal? Silly stuff right there. I was missing out.

I convinced myself I couldn’t, and therefore wouldn’t, eat oranges. I also didn’t like lemon flavored things, including lemonade (which I still don’t usually like — too sour — but sometimes when it’s not too sour I rather enjoy it). Lime wasn’t much in vogue back then so not an issue.

I hope that last statement doesn’t make me the girl with no friends again.

Just in case, I have these bars to help. They’re not lemonade but they’re just as good if not better (depending on how much you like lemonade). They’re the perfect balance of sweet and sour, crumbly and silky. They’re also great because you can almost be satisfied with a teeny tiny bite because they’re so tart. But in case you eat half the pan, don’t blame me. They’re good. It’s the Pioneer Woman! What did you expect?

Pioneer Woman’s Creamy Lemon Bars
adapted from Ree (with love, of course)


1 1/3 c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 c (1 stick) butter, room temperature
1 c brown sugar, lightly packed
1 c old-fashioned oats
14 oz sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c lemon juice, freshly squeezed
zest of 1 lemon (~1 tsp or so)


Preheat oven to 350F.

Sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, cream butter and brown sugar together. Add flour mixture and oats. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of an 8 x 11 pan (or something similar).

Mix the condensed milk, lemon juice, and zest together in a bowl. Spread onto the crumb layer in the pan. Top of with the other half of the crumb mixture. Don’t press!

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until golden brown.

Allow to cool on the counter for ~ 30 minutes before cutting into squares and refrigerating until cool. (They’re much better cold. Trust me!)

Love it. You will too.

– Sharlene

Lemon-Scented Blueberry Cupcakes

Comfort. It’s the familiar smell of your boyfriend. It’s the first glimpse of home around the bend in the road. It’s the feel of a hot shower after a cold day.

It’s the look of butter sitting on the counter waiting to be part of something delicious.

It’s the sound of three friends, roommates, back together after months apart.

I spent the last weekend in Bethesda, Maryland visiting a roommate from college with another roommate but missing our fourth wheel. We’ve seen each other in the years since graduation but always for a dinner here, drinks there, never for any longer than a few hours. And while a few hours is plenty when you don’t see each other often, it’s never enough and it never feels the same as college. Until you spend a weekend together staying up late, shopping, people-watching, and, of course, judging everything from wedding dresses (One of us is engaged. It’s not me. Have no fear.) to how people are sometimes rude to servers at creperies. It’s that quality time when no one has anything better to do or anything next up on the long list for the day. That’s the feeling of comfort. Being with the people you love even if it’s in a place you’ve never been. I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend away to recharge.

When I’m home, comfort is everything I listed before. I know and love how Boy smells both when he’s freshly showered and when he’s just come from a run. (This smell I don’t love AS much and it’s a very VERY transient love but it’s a love either way.) I adore the sight of my parents’ home, especially in the spring when all the trees lining the street are the perfect shade of green. I’ve learned to savor the feel of a shower at the end of the day instead of rushing through one in the beginning.

I’m so used to the look of butter on the counter that when it’s not there I feel a pang in my heart and a new idea churning in my head.

I had been thinking about a berry and lemon cake for a few days but had no time to experiment. I’m glad for it though because I loved the recipe I found. These cupcakes were lovely and comforting and best of all can easily be adapted to whatever berry you have in your fridge or freezer. The lemon flavor is present in every way but perfectly complementary and by no means empowering. I’ll definitely be making/adapting these again!

Lemon-scented Blueberry Cupcakes
Adapted from myrecipes

Makes 12. Perfect for spelling “Happy Bday Pat” (or any other 3-lettered name/nickname).

3/4 c fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed
1 1/2 c plus 2 tbsp flour, divided [set aside the 1 tbsp of flour for the blueberries]
10 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/4 c butter, melted
1 large egg
1/2 c buttermilk [or mix milk and vinegar]
1/2 c 2% reduced-fat milk
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1/4 c (2 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
2 tbsp butter, room temperature
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp  salt
1 1/2 c powdered sugar, sifted
2 tsp fresh lemon juice


Preheat oven to 350. Line 12 muffin/cupcake cups.

Toss blueberries with 1 tbsp flour. Sift together remaining flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter and egg. Add both milks and lemon rind. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and stir just until moist. Fold blueberries into batter. Divide batter into prepared muffin cups.

Bake at 350¬į for 20-25 minutes. Let cool in pan for 5 minutes on a wire rack then remove from pan and allow to¬†cool completely on wire rack.

For the frosting, beat everything but the powdered sugar and lemon juice with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Gradually add powdered sugar until just combined. Don’t overbeat. Stir in juice. Add coloring if desired.

Frost, garnish with blueberries if desired, and call it a day!

So fresh-tasting you’ll definitely want more than one!

– Sharlene